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The 13 Oldest Restaurants in California to Try Next
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The 13 Oldest Restaurants in California to Try Next

Dine at the same spots the older generations frequented and visit the oldest restaurants in California.

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5 min read

March 24, 2021

You’ll never struggle to find a good place to eat in the Golden State. Thanks to its agricultural abundance, the state is filled with edible wonders. What better way to get to know its culinary riches than by visiting the oldest restaurants in California?

These eateries have not only withstood the test of time but have also maintained their authenticity. Want to have a meal that’s delectable and memorable? Dine at the same spots previous generations frequented and visit the oldest restaurants in California.

California's Oldest Restaurants

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Duarte’s Tavern

Location: 202 Stage Road, Pescadero

Year established: 1894

Cuisine: American

Generations of families have grown up with Duarte family’s meals. While the tavern was initially established as a barbershop, the Duarte family started sharing their love of food with their customers. Over one hundred years later, Duarte’s Tavern is still a popular place to savor traditional American cuisine with a Portuguese twist.

Split a sundae at Watson's Soda Fountain and Cafe just like your grandparents did. Photo courtesy of Watson's Soda Fountain and Cafe.

Watson’s Soda Fountain and Cafe

Location: 116 East Chapman Avenue, Orange

Year established: 1899

Cuisine: American

Watson’s Soda Fountain and Cafe’s retro vibe and diner-style comfort foods will have you feeling like you traveled back in time. Located in Orange’s Historic Plaza, this hidden O.C. gem is home to California’s original soda fountain. Pro tip: don’t skip the ice cream sundaes at one of the oldest restaurants in California.

The Oldest Restaurants in Northern California

Union Hotel Occidental 

Location: 3731 Main Street, Occidental

Year established: 1879

Cuisine: Italian

Originally known as Union Saloon, Union Hotel Occidental is a simple and cozy NorCal destination you shouldn’t miss. After you dine at the family-style Italian restaurant, you won’t be able to resist booking a night at one of the luxury guest houses on-site. Union Hotel’s location also makes it an ideal spot to spend a weekend exploring Sonoma.

The Oldest Restaurants in San Francisco

We ravi-only have eyes for Fior d’Italia's dishes. Make sure to come hungry, because you won't want to stop feasting.

Fior d’Italia

Location: 2237 Mason Street, San Francisco

Year established: 1886

Cuisine: Italian

Fior d’Italia was opened in 1886 to feed the gold miners who wanted to try their luck along San Francisco’s Barbary Coast. Due to a variety of reasons, this historic restaurant operated at numerous locations. But all throughout, Fior d’Italia has managed to maintain its reputation—serving traditional Italian food, providing great service, and offering a wholesome atmosphere. 

Good food and fun times are always guaranteed at Schroeder’s. Photo courtesy of Schroeder’s.

Schroeder’s

Location: 240 Front Street, San Francisco

Year established: 1893

Cuisine: German

Schroeder’s has brought an authentic taste of Germany to S.F. for over a hundred years. The rich history, friendly atmosphere, and prime downtown location have made one of the oldest restaurants in California a long-standing favorite. Bite into the delicious wursts and schnitzels and you’ll be coming back in no time.

The oldest seafood restaurants in San Francisco

Can you believe that Tadich Grill was established before California was declared a state? Photo courtesy of Tadich Grill.

Tadich Grill

Location: 240 California Street, San Francisco

Year established: 1849

Cuisine: Seafood

Older than the state itself (yes, really), Tadich Grill is believed to be the oldest restaurant in California and the third oldest in the country. Given its time-honored history and continuously delicious cuisine, it’s safe to say that San Francisco’s Tadich Grill has earned its iconic reputation. Don’t miss out on trying the best authentic mesquite broiled salmon when you visit.

The Old Clam House

Location:  299 Bayshore Boulevard, San Francisco

Year established: 1861

Cuisine: Seafood

Another one of the oldest seafood restaurants in San Francisco, The Old Clam House (open under normal circumstances) is a classic. The restaurant serves iconic California food such as clam chowder and the signature cioppino. If you’re ever on a getaway to San Francisco, don’t skip this legendary restaurant.

Southern California’s oldest restaurants

Ain't no thing like a chicken wing from Tivoli Bar and Grill. Spend your night out indulging on these scrumptious wings.

Tivoli Bar and Grill

Location: 505 Sixth Avenue, San Diego

Year established: 1885

Cuisine: Bar food

Tivoli is the oldest establishment in San Diego specializing in eclectic music, social atmosphere, and true bar food. The restaurant’s original wooden bar and the first installed cash register is still on display. Try the famous wings whenever you’re there and get a taste of what mid-20th century hangouts were all about.

Enjoy a hearty meal prepared with fresh local ingredients at the Cold Spring Tavern. Photo courtesy of Cold Spring Tavern.

Cold Spring Tavern

Location: 5995 Stagecoach Road, Santa Barbara

Year established: 1868

Cuisine: American/ Wild game

The rustic Cold Spring Tavern looks exactly the way a restaurant serving American food and wild game should. In other words, this antique-filled mountainside saloon looks and feels like it's straight out of a Hollywood Western. Not only is the restaurant itself historic, but its surrounding 19th-century buildings add more color to its setting. Enjoy a hearty meal at Cold Spring Tavern and have fun exploring the area.


The Oldest Restaurants in Los Angeles

Philippe The Original is said to be the birthplace of the French dip sandwich and is a must-try eatery. Photo courtesy of Philippe The Original.

Philippe The Original

Location: 1001 North Alameda Street, Los Angeles

Year established: 1908

Cuisine: Breakfast and sandwiches

Philippe The Original claims to be the restaurant that invented the French dip sandwich. The story goes that in 1918, owner Mathie Phillipe was making a sandwich for a policeman but dropped it into a roasting pan filled with hot juices. The policeman took the sandwich anyway and came back the next day with friends asking for more. The rest is history. 

The Original Saugus Cafe

Location: 25861 Railroad Avenue, Santa Clarita

Year established: 1886

Cuisine: American 

The Original Saugus Cafe is believed to be the first-ever restaurant opened in Los Angeles County. Legend has it that President Theodore Roosevelt stopped by the cafe and enjoyed a splendid special New York steak. As one of the oldest restaurants in California, the Saugus Cafe has also served the likes of Clark Gable, John Wayne, and Charlie Chaplin.


The oldest Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles

El Cholo knows precisely what a perfect meal looks like. photo courtesy of El Cholo.

El Cholo the Original

Location: 1121 South Western Avenue, Los Angeles

Year established: 1923

Cuisine: Mexican

Believed to be the oldest Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, El Cholo does justice to the most popular ethnic cuisine in California. Since opening its doors in 1923, the restaurant has operated as a family-owned business and continues to do so today. El Cholo also claims to be the first restaurant to serve nachos in L.A.—the ionic food made its appearance in 1959.

La Luz Del Dia Restaurant

Location: West 1 Olvera Street, Los Angeles

Year established: 1959

Cuisine: Michoacan Mexican

La Luz Del Dia Restaurant is another one of the oldest restaurants in California. The delicious eatery serves Michoacan Mexican food in Downtown L.A. The beautiful tile-covered restaurant is still run by the same family that established it and continues to serve authentic food. Try the combination plates at La Luz Del Dia for a hearty meal and a little taste of everything.

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